31 Dec 2015

Easy Drink - New Years Eve Skittles Vodka

For Christmas I like to make something for someone else (sorry for experimenting on you family) and this year we had a bottle of vodka that kept calling me into doing something with.

Perhaps not the most obvious of things but I went with Skittles Vodka as I thought it might be a nice drink for New Years Eve for my brother and sister in law...(and my brother and sister in law if I ever deliver it in time)!

So the most technical bit is dividing up the skittles and managing to not eat them before they make it into the bottles. After a bit of research I found out that the green (lime) and the purple (blackcurrant) aren't the best to add to vodka because of the taste or colour - so I promptly ate both lots of those. The most difficult bit about that was hiding it from the children as I didn't want to share (full of good cheer I am!).
The first batch of strawberry I started to dissolve the skittles in a small amount of vodka and it went a lovely shade of red immediately. It's a good idea to shake the bottle regularly so after a while I decanted the whole lot into my new bottles and gave it a gently swill every now and again.

 

The next bottle I just added the skittles directly to the bottle and then vodka on top, it's such a gratifying process to watch the colour drain out of them and then the skittles eventually disappear. It's best to leave this at least 24hrs and give it a gently shake to help them dissolve but then it's ready to drink.  I found my glass bottles in a local shop and I thought they made it look a little bit more special but equally a mason jar would work well or some other online resources even suggest using old water bottles to shake the mixtures before decanting.

A sweet little shot for a toast to a new year.

 



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29 Dec 2015

Post Christmas Craft Activity

This year we got what seemed like hundreds of cards from nursery and school and they seemed to litter every surface. Always falling down or one of the kids would casually swipe the cupboard top and knock a mass of precariously balanced tiny cards over!

I love Christmas but tire quickly of it all once it's over, I like to declutter and look forward to the rest of the year. I like the feeling of space that gets created, my daughter doesn't...getting rid of anything is her idea of 'the worst day ever mummy' (in her own words).

So this year we tried a craft that I remember my mum doing with us, Christmas card collages. It meant I lost the tiresome cards and she didn't feel like she was missing anything - it had just changed into something else.

I cut out randomly pictures from the cards and then set the kids up with glue, bits of card and some tissue paper.

We then had a lovely half hour gluing and sticking.

The finished pictures are going to be laminated maybe brought out again next year and stuck on the wall.

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18 Dec 2015

I Believe....

So I may no longer believe in Father Christmas and my girl is getting very suspicious of the whole thing with questions such as "why does each father Christmas look different" "he can't go to all the houses" "the elf on the shelf isn't real, I can see his label...he is a toy!"

She wants to believe and still does but it will only take one or two other children to knock that faith and belief. I find it so sad, not that she could be a non believer...lets face it, as an adult we all know there is no possibility that he's real. But I'm sad because of the magic of belief and the fun you have when you go into it only thinking of the fun and the sparkle.

As I say, I don't believe in Father Christmas and I can't remember when or how I found out so I'm not particularly scarred by that little white lie but I miss believing. I guess it's the god equivalent for some people, it's the sense of belonging that we all cling onto when we live in such an unpredictable world.

So with out further ado I will let you into a little secret....I believe....In fairies. I always have and know I always will. Before you call in the men in white coats, hear me out, I know they can't be real and I'm a sensible young(ish) woman but I like believing, I love the magic of it all and the childlike feelings it provokes.

I think it all started when my mum used to bribe me to go to Brownies, I didn't hate going but didn't like leaving my mum so she used to put fairy dust in my purse and said if I got worried then sprinkle some fairy dust. It soon became a family joke and I owned quite a few pairs of fairy wings (I'm down to one pair now and Bubba has the rest).

The best bit is that when I used to feel sad, I'd pop my wings on and you can't feel sad with wings on, try it, you really can't.

So I hope my girl keeps her belief for a few more years and not because of the 'if you don't believe then you don't get presents' but more because it's lovely to keep that magic alive inside your brain, it's fab to wonder and dream and belong to something bigger than yourself.

“Do you believe in fairies?...If you believe, clap your hands!”
  J.M. Barrie

I believe....
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14 Dec 2015

Christmas - Our Style

So I've always had this romantic view of Christmas, snow and everything, an elegant tree with handmade decorations, a roaring fire and mulled wine (which I don't really like in real life!) and all rooms in our house decorated in a different style.

The reality is totally different with a toddler and exacting nearly five year old, our tree is over populated in some areas with a load of tatty decorations (I would go as far as to say gaudy at times but that's the four year old's eclectic style). The lower half of the tree is sparse to say the least as my boy tries his hardest to get at the decorations, he lunges and if lucky manages to pull off the lonely bauble and then proceeds to lob it across the room without a backwards glance.

My girl likes amassing all decorations from around the room into little clusters and playing families with them. So we have lots of groups that make no sense and are easy to tread on. I am forever moving things back to where they started off and then watch as the boy just swipes things of the top of every available surfaces.

Don't get me started on the tinsel....this was shredded between the children whilst they had an impromptu tug of war in a fit of giggles. I was the only one not giggling whilst picking it all up off the floor after they had moved on to terrorising another part of our house. No other rooms now have decorations as I'm finding it too stressful to maintain and return and tidy up after they whirlwind past.

Presents won't make it under our tree as they will be unwrapped as soon as I put them down. The advent calendar barely makes it throught the day as well. My toddler cannot grasp the idea you get one chocolae a day, so each day both advent calendars have to be hidden back in the cupboard until the next day when we go through the whole ruse once more.

Bubba trawls through the Argos catalogue like a forensic scientist, eager not to miss even the smallest of toys and ticks almost everything on every page. The day is punctuated by shouts of "I want that...and that...mummy I want that one in pink...I also want that" as she sees adverts on tv but yet when we sat down to write a letter to Father Christmas this week she couldn't think of one thing that she really wanted and said she would come back to writing it....it still sits lonely on the table waiting.

We will be still wrapping presents at midnight on Christmas eve and realise that we don't have enough wrapping paper...only to watch it all ripped off and littering the floor by 5.30am at the very latest.

Most of Christmas morning will be spent cooking and tag teaming the making of presents and separating the children as they each attempt to play with the others toys, eat chocolate directly from the wrapper and have meltdowns because it's all too overwhelming and they are tired from waking at 3am, 4am and 5am to see if father christmas has arrived.

There will be a general cry for crisps and chocolate at every turn as they race up and down the room from all the E numbers already consumed in the first 15 minutes of the day. But at the end of the day once they are tucked up in bed we will fondly look back at the day we've just had, ready to repeat it exactly the same next year.

Merry Christmas all xx
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8 Dec 2015

Small Business Saturday - Meet the Mum #3

I've found this little questionnaire so interesting so I'll hopefully be continuing with the series either monthly or just as and when.

Onto our next lovely 'Meet the Mum'...



Joanne works on most arty projects, commissions. Please get in touch through her page and she can help you.
                      https://www.facebook.com/joannewardallmediaartist/

What's the best thing about working for yourself?  
I love that I can schedule work around my three children, who are aged 7, 4 and 2 (the youngest two being boys).  If I need to slow down one particular month, I can choose how much work to take on.  And on the other hand, during the Christmas period, I tend to take on more to help towards pressies etc; last year my earnings helped pay for this plus a summer holiday the following year!  The children attend a school just around the corner and its comforting to know I can be there in no time should they need me.  I also get to take breaks from my work when I'm at home if I need to do some chores, pop to the shops, go to the doctors etc.  It's very flexible!

What made you decide to take the plunge?
When my eldest child - my daughter - was 8 months old, I went to work as a Teaching Assistant at a local primary school.  I was there for a year before deciding to leave as I missed spending time with her.  But at the same time, I wanted to be doing something for me, that I enjoyed, and that I could possibly earn from.  Art has always been my thing; I got top grades at school, have taught myself how to use many different media over the years, and have built up my experience by trying my hand at anything creative.  I even did a couple of painting demonstrations at my local Hobbycraft store, and have had my work featured a few times in an art society members' magazine.  So it made sense to carry this on - I don't think I could ever give up my art.  I also had great encouragement from friends and family and this made me more determined!  I am a strong believer in doing what you love for a living, and working hard to make that a reality.
 
Biggest challenge you face?
Time!  There never seems to be enough time in the day.  More often than not I'll find myself working at the kitchen table or art board late at night when the kids have gone to bed and suffer with a sore neck the next day!  But its worth it.  I'd rather work 'after hours' than miss doing things with the children when they are around.  Luckily I have a very supportive husband who helps take the children to school or out for a few hours to the park etc, so I can have some uninterrupted time to work if I need it.  I've had a few instances of this lately as Christmas is close - my busiest time of year!


What's the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
I don't know if its true necessarily, but I do wonder if people think that anything to do with art isn't a real job.  In fact, over the years I've made quite a handy income from portrait commissions, tutoring, personalised gifts, a few cakes for close friends plus painting murals!  The work is never consistent, of course, and I use this time to work on personal projects...or just to take a breather!  Even though art is probably seen as being 'fun' and not very serious, its still hard work and I consider it a real job even if others don't!  I like to think that the work I create will stay with people for years to come so that makes me feel good.

What one tip you you give to someone who is just starting out?
What helped me to get work initially was getting the word out there; I spoke to people about my work which generated interest (and orders), I created a Facebook page, got business cards and leaflets printed out and took part in demonstrations at art stores and even had a stall at the school fair!  My Facebook page actually started as a platform to share anything creative I've done (and still is, in a way), but now its developed into more of 'shop' where I can add examples of my makes that are for sale, or can be specially commissioned.  So, in short, once you've decided what you want to do, let people know about it!  Of course, there may be other people out there doing something the same or similar, but its all about putting your unique 'stamp' on it.  No one person holds the exclusive rights to a specific line of business, so don't be put off by the fact that there are similar businesses out there; do what makes you happy.

Where do you see yourself this time next year?
This time next year my youngest will be at preschool every morning, so I'll definitely have more time to do more!  I have so many plans for my art business.  I hope I'm not seen as a 'Jack of all Trades', but I do truly love trying out a bit of everything - and being the best I can at it!  I would love to take on more portrait commissions for example, people or pets, and I have lots of other materials such as mosaic tiles and clay that I purchased a few months back that are crying out for attention!  The cake decorating was never really a serious pursuit in my art business -  just another creative thing I liked doing for close friends and family - so this will make way for larger-scale projects such as wall murals and larger paintings.  I have too many ideas and not enough time to put them into action!  But its good to know I have a good supply of possibilities to draw from - springboards into a whole host of other areas.  I have also recently started up my own adult dance fitness classes - a mix of Ballroom, Latin and Salsa - and hope this class (plus a few more styles I hope to add to the timetable) will have taken off.  I used to teach dance a while back, before having children, and have recently rediscovered my passion for it.  Dancing has a very calming, but also uplifting effect on me.
 
How do you juggle motherhood, work and your own business?
I have to admit, it's not perfect!  I personally don't know anyone who has an easy time juggling these things.  For me, the stress and worry is the main thing; I worry about not having enough time, I worry that I'm neglecting the kids if I work when they are around, I worry that I worry too much!  And this in turn causes the stress.  I know I put an awful lot of pressure on myself, but I've become better at making time for myself, usually when my youngest is napping.  I'll grab a cup of tea and read!  I find having a day-to-day routine helps also; it helps me and the kids know what's expected and keeps things running smoothly.  I guess not having a full- or part-time job aswell as my own businesses helps, as I don't have to arrange childcare or rush to catch a train first thing in the morning etc.  And as I said before, I have a wonderfully supportive (or is that long-suffering!) husband who will take the children and give me some space if I need it.  I do feel very strongly about having time to oneself, even if it is just to sit and reflect on things, not to necessarily work.  

What one thing do you want your children to take away from seeing you busting your groove?
My daughter is very aware of the fact that I work from home, and that people pay me for my creative services!  She is following in my footsteps with her art, and I think she has dreams of doing something similar one day!  The boys aren't as clued up on what I do, but I guess I'd love for them all to see that following your passion is possible and that you can make a living from it.  I never would have thought years ago, sitting in my school art lessons, that one day people would pay me to make artwork for them.  It really is such a lovely feeling.

How did you get into what you do?
I've loved art since a very early age, and the love for it will always be there.  When I was about 11 or 12 I sent some illustrations to a greeting card company, and completely unexpectedly they replied and asked me to design some mugs for them!  I think my mum still has them in a cupboard somewhere.  I remember getting the cheque to pay for my services and being completely overwhelmed!  I was amazed that even someone as young as me could make money from something I loved doing every hour of the day.  I'd spend hours in my room drawing and painting - many of my friends and family own a few works of mine!  Over the years I've spent hours drawing, painting, reading art books, attending exhibitions, even tutoring young children - I like to absorb as much creativity as possible.  I am a naturally creative person and it would be difficult to do anything else that didn't require that trait.

Brief description of what you do.....
Self-taught artist with many years experience that works in a wide variety of media across a vide variety of genres!!  And a dance teacher on the side - I am quite into my fitness
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5 Dec 2015

Small Business Saturday - Meet the Mum #2

It's small business Saturday and our second meet the mum feature. So this is me...Babble Books




What's the best thing about working for yourself?

The fact that I can do as much or as little as I want and it fits around my other commitments at home and work. It's also my achievement at the end of the day, everything I get back from it is directly a result of what I've done. There is no bigger buzz

What made you decide to take the plunge?

I saw a picture on IG of a beautifully set up book stall. I kept getting drawn back to it and thought I would love to visit that stall. From there the idea was sewn, it was a no brainer for me, I love reading and combine that with books for children, I was sold.

Biggest challenge you face?

Not comparing myself to others who are on different circumstances. I can only work as hard as I can with my limited time and need to remember it isn't a competition. Slowly slowly catchy monkey.

What's the biggest misconception people have about what you do?

It's a pyramid scheme and there is a catch. The only catch is that you have to put effort in to reap the rewards. Usborne at home have been around for years and years and I hope I am also with them a long time.

What one tip you you give to someone who is just starting out?

Do your best, that's the best you can do at any time. Also just enjoy it, it does take effort but it's also not what I'd call work. I love the books and if you have a passion then you really can't go wrong.

Where do you see yourself this time next year?

Well I became a team leader (with a team of 10) within 12 weeks of joining so I'm aiming to get a wider team all over and continue to be a group leader, I want to stay at Usborne.

How do you juggle motherhood, work and your own business?

It takes a lot of effort to juggle it all sometimes. Other times it's the easiest job in the world. I have a big wall planner that I write everything on and I take a diary out everywhere with me to keep up with all our commitments. I also write lists...I love lists and I have lots of them.

What one thing do you want your children to take away from seeing you busting your groove?

I know it sounds rather melodramatic but I want them to know I changed the world a little bit. Even if it's just one children's book at a time. I want them to be proud of me and to realise that I'm not 'just' a mum but a better mum because I'm busting my groove trying lots of different things. Bubba already gets how important it all is to me and she helps me and I love that she sees its ok to try your hardest at something you are passionate about.

How did you get into what you do?

I've always read and loved books, no matter what type of book...I love it. I enjoy writing too and find the link between the two fascinating, anything that comes from a book has essentially started in someone's brain. So when I realised I could share my passion for reading with the next generation and help them also get a buzz from it...I couldn't wait to start.

Brief description of what you do.....

I share Usborne children's books with families, friends, schools and nurseries...basically anywhere that will have me. I'm hoping to do some sponsored reads in schools soon and help them get free books.



If you are interested in joining my team or ordering books I'd love to hear from you.

www.Babblebooks.co.uk
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4 Dec 2015

Small Business Saturday - Meet the mum - Diamond Beauty Boutique

Saturday 5th December is small business Saturday in the UK so I thought I would showcase some lovely businesses and being a mum (and newly in business) I decided to highlight the mums out there doing it and working their business like a #bossmum.

So first up is my lovely friend and small business owner who has been working her business for over a year now as well as a part time job and being mum to two lovely little people.


What's the best thing about working for yourself?

I love that I am my own boss, I can work when I want so I can fit it around my family, and I like that I have control over how my business grows.

What made you decide to take the plunge?
I've never really known what I wanted to do with my life, I never wanted to be in an office job and now I want more time with my children so I thought 'Why not, I've got nothing to lose'.

Biggest challenge you face?
I'm not the loudest person and I've never had a team before so it's all very new to me when it comes to training people and being in charge.

What's the biggest misconception people have about what you do?
That it's a pyramid scheme and that you don't have to actually work hard for it to succeed.

What one tip you you give to someone who is just starting out?
Be enthusiastic, love what you're doing and people will pick up on that.

Where do you see yourself this time next year?
Hopefully with a team 3 times the size it is now and song this full time so I can spend more time supporting them.

How do you juggle motherhood, work and your own business? No idea haha, I try not to work when I'm with the children so I'll do a bit before they get up and then when they've gone to bed. My children do like to get involved with my business which is fantastic so that really helps.

What one thing do you want your children to take away from seeing you busting your groove?
I want my children to know that if you work hard then you can achieve anything.

How did you get into what you do?
I joined another company originally and it just wasn't for me. I kept seeing things about Younique and in the end realised that it was a sign that I had to give it a go.

Brief description of what you do.....
I have a business with a US cosmetic company called Younique, I sell amazing cosmetics but it's more than that it's being able to support a team of ladies and see lives start to change as we all become more confident and grow our businesses.

So if you'd like to know more then please head over to Gill's facebook page and give her a like and see some of her wonderful products
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2 Dec 2015

The 'Mumship' - Playground Rules

When you are four, it's easy to make and break friendships - one week you will be happily playing and the next you declare you have a new best friend and waltz into the playground hand in hand.

Us mums watch and listen to the dramatic changes and wonder what the following week will bring and we all stand in the playground making polite conversation. You see the same mums (or dads or grandparents) every day and for 15 minutes your lives are lived in parallel. You all have to turn up in time and wait and then watch as the children file out and get assigned to their parent/carer, we all then get the same book bags thrust upon us and head on our way.

You get the sense that you know the people around you but you don't really know them much at all, there are the long standing mums...the ones who have been there from before time began. This is their second or third child going through the system and they stand with their comrades and new mums rarely break into the ranks as they stand in a semi circle, cackling over a shared joke. They ignore the kids as they are sent on their way and finish their conversation when they are good and ready whilst the kids kick holes in the front of their shoes on the hard gravel playground.

Next and near the front are the new mums - we are the nervous newbies, our first born has started school and we are new enough to still miss them when they are at school. We wait expectantly with whatever snack our lovely little people have requested, crane our necks and wave as soon as they are lined up waiting to be sent off to their parents.  We stick together and ask if everyone received the nit letter and whether they've seen the school photo yet. We usually have a pram with a smaller person in and we half apologise, half barge as we struggle our way out with the book bag that has been off loaded onto us whilst grilling our child on what they ate, who they played with and did they do a wee!

The late arrivals slink around at the back of the crowd and try and catch the teachers eye because their child was first in the queue and had to then stand to one side as all the other children get matched up with a parent and the fact they were late is something they want to keep under wraps.

The inbetweeners - these mums neither care about rank systems, being late or making sure their child missed them. They simple exist in the middle somewhere, milling around, talking to the odd other mum but never standing with the same group two days in a row. They could be part time picker upers and don't do this often enough to have made a group or they are too busy to care.

It's often difficult to know who with and where to stand but if you are lucky you will meet some lovely mums and have a 'mumship' where for 15 minutes a day you feel like no one else in the world knows you or your child better. It's a great feeling and hopefully develops into a great friendship that will develop as your children grow.
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30 Nov 2015

Things I'll never tell you...

Things you'll never realise...

I lay awake wondering if that last cough means you'll wake and need water, should I get you some to be sure.

When you told me you hated my 'silly wobbly belly' I cried, in secret. I then cried again when you admitted later that my belly was one thing you love the most about me.

I worry I can't always protect you. I know I can't.

I will never not miss you, regardless of how I say 'I wish I had some time on my own'. When you aren't there I think about you.

Going past your school in the car I wind down my window in case I get the chance to hear you...I also briefly thinking about stopping to catch a glimpse of you.

You've got all the best bits of me and a few of the worst and I'm sorry about that.

I look forward to dropping you off at school and I also can't wait to collect you.

I don't want you to ever leave home, go out without me or even think about university far away!

I push you because I know you can do more than you think.

I will always put you first, second and third. Always.

You've both made me into a better person.

When you climb I get nervous but have to let you fall and learn your own lessons.

If I could take away the pain when you are hurt or ill, I would...in an instant.

You frustrate and amaze me in equal measure.

I'm always there, always with you and always loving you.

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25 Nov 2015

Baby sitting with Sitters

We've just celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary which sort of feels like a big deal. It's gone so quickly and we are still having fun together and building our little family.

We don't really go in for traditional presents and all I ask is for a card. But this year I made him a cake and he bought me some special fudge (my favourite). The biggest treat for us was a night out together, we worked out that the last time we'd been out together was 4th July! We never got to go out and celebrate hubby's 40th birthday together.

My parents are fab and we've lined them up for a couple of events and birthdays in December but that's the extent of our sitting opportunities.

That's until I came across Sitters, a couple of weeks ago I'd seen them in FCebook and liked their page so when the opportunity arose to test them out, I jumped at it. I was super keen which is very unlike me as I've never left my children with a stranger.

It's free to sign up and you get shown potential babysitters in your area with reviews and you can pick your preferred sitter.

I had never heard about them but Sitters have been around for 45 years. Once registered there is nothing to pay until your first booking. You get 24hr account access and although they ask you to give them as much time as possible, they can and will try and match you with a sitter at very short notice.

As soon as I registered I got a phone call from the main office to see if I had any questions. It was all very efficient and once we'd decides on a date and time you receive an email confirmation. They try and match you with your preferred  sitter (we got our first choice).

By Sunday I was particularly nervous wondering if the kids would wake and see a stranger. Bubba was excited and was planning ways to wake up to have a chat with the nice lady!

About two hours before arrival, our sitter called and we had a chat. I instantly calmed down as she sounded lovely. The kids were both asleep when she arrived and after another chat we left her to it. She said she'd text half way through the evening to let me know how the children were doing.  She did and they were both sleeping. Phew!

After she left, an automated message asked us to leave feedback. Which I did straight away as we'd had a very good service. Our lady was lovely and the office were efficient and quick, there was nothing I could fault.

There is a registration fee and you also pay the sitter which can make it pricey but we've decided to use the service at least once a month for date night and then for anything else that crops up.

I would truly recommend this website and service. If you have any questions I'm happy to chat about our experience in more detail...if you are the nervous sort like me!

I've also been lucky to get a promo code for my lovely readers: BLOGOFFER. 

(This code will give you a free booking credit. You need to add it at the end of the parent registration process).

You can find them here:

www.Sitters.co.uk

*We received a free babysitting session for the purpose of this review but we will be using this service again and I would recommend to everyone. It was brilliant 
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20 Nov 2015

The Guilts...

As I cradled my son at 4.30am this morning and it was clear that he wasn't going to be put back in bed (he screamed if I even mentioned his bed). In the dark as I rocked us both back and forth my guilts started taking over.

I remember a time, vaguely, when my guilt levels hit at having too much wine on a night out or finishing a family size pizza all to myself...seriously who's family would be happy eating one pizza between four!!! One slice each...really?

Anyway, now my guilts hit daily and sometimes hourly and everything is included in the remit. They are often contradictory too, so here are my recent ones...what others do you have?

I felt guilty at...

going to work and not staying at home

Whether I was showing my kids enough love

Maybe I'm making my boy dependant on me...(honestly so contradicting of the point above...)

Not understanding what my customers really want

Wanting to succeed at work

Bring my children up in a world that's gone crazy

Not putting my kids in vests...

Eating that cupcake last night

Having not got any Christmas presents yet

Eating my daughters sweets and then making out they were lost...when they were in my belly!

I felt guilty that I feel guilty so often...


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14 Nov 2015

Easy Meals - Chicken and Orzo bake

Its definitely getting colder out and my body is craving comfort food...all.day.long!

I'm a new convert to Orzo since making the wonderful roast chicken and orzo which was a Nigella recipe.

The other night I decided to create something new and threw everything into a pan (hence why there are no photos of the prep stages).

You'll need:

Chicken pieces (diced and browned)
1 onion (chopped)
1 courgette (sliced)
200g Orzo (feeds two people)
2 x tins chopped tomatoes 
1 mozzarella ball (diced)
Sliced tomato
Paprika (1tsp)
Chilli powder (1tsp or to taste)

Method:
Brown chicken and onions, add courgette and spices.

Cook orzo to packet instructions (8 mins)

Add tinned tomatoes to chicken pan and boil to reduce tomatoes.

Once cooked, add orzo to the tomato sauce. And hear through.

Put a layer of the mixture in an oven proof dish.  Then evenly add half the mozzarella and cover with another layer of orzo mix, dot around the rest of the cheese and add slices of tomato on to the top. Baked in the oven for 20 minutes...this is just to melt the cheese and brown the top.

Serve in a bowl with garlic bread on the side to mop up the excess sauce.



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13 Nov 2015

Bedtime Stalling Tactis...part 1




"Mummy why does our blood go in veins"

"Sshh...we'll find out in the morning, now snuggle down"

"Mummy I can't sleep"

"You haven't even closed your eyes yet!"

"Mummy I want packed lunch tomorrow"

(...starts to wail and cry)

"Don't cry sweetie, it's bedtime, tomorrow we will sort out lunch"

(Tomorrow is a Saturday)

"Mummy I need a drink/wee/be tucked in...my feet are cold/hot...."

Delete as necessary

"Right I'm going outside now, see you in the morning"

Silence for a minute...bliss

"Mummy...."

"Sshh bedtime now!"

"Mummy...."

"Mummy!"

"Mummy I can't sleep"

Silence then rustling 

30 seconds later I peep through crack in the door...she is snoring.

Repeat every night for what feels like forever!



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11 Nov 2015

The 10 Motherhood Moments

There are things that you know will just happen regardless of how you try to divert or avoid. 

1) When a child is ill, you know at least once they will be sick down your leg and into your shoe...Always

2) As soon as you move a toy into the charity pile, even though it hasn't been played with for months...years even. Your child will ask for that exact toy.

3) The moment your child states a preference for eating fish fingers (after days/weeks of not eating anything) and you buy them in bulk...your child WILL denounce them again.

4) If you are in a hurry to leave the house, this will be the exact moment the light of your life child will decide they need a big poo.

5) Even if it's the smallest stone in the playground...most children will manage to trip over it and land directly on it.

6) No matter how much you comb your child's hair, by the time she gets to school it'll look like she's been in a wind tunnel for 7hrs.

7) It won't be until you've shouted that your child will eventually take notice of you and act like its the first time you've spoken today!

8) At Christmas and on birthdays they will end up playing more with the empty box  or a random balloon than the overpriced plastic tat.

9) There will always be a sock or glove missing at all times.

10) When your head hits the pillow after a long and exhausting day...is the exact moment your child will start to cry.

There are many more examples and quite frankly I could carry on all night but I'll leave it at my top ten.
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9 Nov 2015

Our Book of the Week

Well another week closer to Christmas, I can't believe what is happening as it seems to be almost here and I've not done anything about it yet.

I know the shops start Christmas earlier and earlier each year so it sort of drives everyone into a frenzy of buying. We are going to try and scale it down this year, hubby and I are going to give each other gifts to the value of £20 and the kids are getting one present and a book (obvs a book seeing as I now sell them).

I thought I'd share a couple of books that have been selling fast for me and customers seem to love.

First up - Fingerprint Activity Book - £9.99

This is a godsend, it's travel friendly and manages to keep children busy and I love it so much.


For little ones...these two books are going fast.

That's not my meerkat book and toy - £14.99

My little boy loves meerkats (I'm still unsure why as I think they are ok but he seems to be a bit obsessed with them).

This is gorgeous for Christmas and I'm hoping to put it away and use again next year.

Baby's very first noisy book Christmas- £9.99

It's lovely and simple and the noisy bit is cute rather than being aggressively noisy.


On to me...I always thought Young Adult fiction was about romance stories (I'm not sure why) and hard to relate to but some are fairly gritty and a few have warnings saying only for 15yrs and older. 

Well here's my favourite at the moment. I'm loving how the story unfolds.

Soul mates - £7.99


What's your favourite book?

If you want any more information on the ones here, please visit my website: www.Babblebooks.co.uk

Or leave me a message and I'll be happy to help x

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5 Nov 2015

When it rains...it pours

When things are going well, you take them for granted but when the bad times hit you wish only for the ordinary.

My little boy has spent the last month with colds, general rattyness and finally this week...the dreaded hand, foot and mouth. It's been atrocious and he hasn't slept, eaten or functioned very well. My happy boy has been reduced to a very volatile little being. 

All he wanted to do was be attached to me but would cry and try and get off me, only to cry again whilst trying to get back on.

It was hard work trying to be his everything and not knowing how to help him the most. I became grumpy with bubba too and we would have shouting matches. My usual calm exterior became one of a weary, I can't deal with this, pained expression. Whatever was asked, I would start saying no and this has rubbed off on my girl. It's all she will say back to me and with a challenging look on her face. 

So on our way home from school in the rain when she tried to jump in a puddle and I grumbled and started to say 'no' I thought about it and instead decided to join in. We spent the rest of the walk home jump in puddles and her giggles were worth getting wet feet for.

We then continued to play in the garden in the rain. The kids loved it.


So did I, it made a nice change from shouting and saying no at every opportunity. It was a nice slice of ordinary to get us through the rougher days.
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29 Oct 2015

Motherhood Moments

I'm having one of those periods of time where I seem to get nothing done but I'm doing everything. Time seems to be moving slowly, Groundhog Day style but I blink and it's already later than I realise.


Having two little people is tough at the moment, the day to day of juggling their needs is doing me in. I can't image how other people make it work with more kids, I used to want more but I think it'd send me over the edge slightly. 

It's especially worse or probably just more noticeable as they are both slightly under the weather. The crying and whining and not eating and being totally unpredictable is making me question what I'm doing wrong. One starts up and then it finishes, then the next takes over, it's a riot of sleepless nights and long days where all they seem to do is moan at me, on repeat.

I'm not really enjoying myself, barely getting through the day without me shouting, a child screaming at me or dissolving into a puddle of tears the minute my husband gets in the door.. 

It's not my finest motherhood moment and I can't seem to get myself out of this rut. I feel dispondent and slightly dislocated from life with a 'what's the point' attitude. I know this is another negative post but it's also real life because this is how motherhood looks to me right now. I hope it gets better and the tantrums (from both of them dissipate soon). 
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23 Oct 2015

Bully Be Gone

We've all read about bullying and how it affects an astonishing one in three children at school or online. We all remember our own childhoods and if we were subject to any kind of torment at school.

I luckily never was apart from being teased by a boy called George who I now think secretly fancied me. It was tame and I never felt threatened or sad...just thought he was a silly boy!

But bullying is real, it's painful and it's nasty.

As a mother I didn't really get it and I just felt sorry for any child who goes through it but I wasn't affected directly by it. I hadn't realised its not just the name calling or put downs...it's the mental anguish faced when you are at home or thinking about it or hating going to school the next day. It's the uncontrollable rage, the flying off the handle and not knowing why, it's the unrecognisable child that gets returned to me at the end of the day. 

I would be horrified if I found out that my child was part of any form of bullying. I hate the idea of being left out or wilfully leaving another out. Even if you don't particularly like or know the person, kindness is still my preferred option. I've been subject to mum snubs in the playground and find it affects me awfully as I'm quite sensitive. But I'm also an adult, I can rationalise it better, a child can't always do that and hasn't  got the emotional tools to deal with rejection.

As parents we should be teaching our children kindness, support and tolerance. Reminding them that it's not nice to talk to people rudely or with disdain, everyone is equal. They should know a simple smile and hello are all it takes to make friends.

Starting school this year for my girl there have been lots of times she's come home and announced "you are only allowed one friend" or "I can't play with X as she has a new friend and says she doesn't need me"

'She doesn't need me'...

Such a heartbreaking sentence as is the following which makes me openly weep (but never in front of my girl, I squirrel myself off to tidy up).

"She told me to leave her alone for 5 minutes today, yesterday it was 10"

Me: what do you do when she says this?

"I go and wait on my own until the bell rings"

She is only four and my heart breaks for her. She thinks this is friendship but it's not. This is an older girl who in my opinion should know better. I hate the thought that she is stood on her own feeling a confused mix of emotions.

"She promised she'd play with me today but she lied mummy"

"She let me follow her around at playtime then said 'please leave me alone'"

I know I don't fully know the context but I know my little girl is in turmoil when she gets home. She has been taking it out on me and I can't stop her pain or comprehension of the situation. I'm going to keep trying and helping her understand being treated like this isn't fair and it's not right.

We've spoken to her teacher (who is speaking to the big girls teacher too). I'm also trying to keep an open dialogue about it and comparing situations. At first she hadn't wanted to tell me what was happening. I just want my happy little four year old back, I just need to see that smile and hear her laugh.

For advice and help there are lots of resources available. Here are a few I've found:

www.bullying.co.uk
www.anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/anti-bullying-week/
www.stopbullying.gov
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21 Oct 2015

Our Favourite No Fuss Games

I love Pinterest, Facebook and good old Instagram but sometimes they make me feel like I'm loosing at motherhood.

There are all sorts of videos on brilliant games, things to make and places to go. Pictures of amazing art created by children and food that looks easy to craft but ultimately when I try it both kids look at me like I'm insane. Our sugar animals look more like what a real animal would produce from its bum! My great games with Pom poms and tubes and sorting buckets leave my boy either trying to inhale them or chucking them behind radiators. Do you know how hard it is to extract five blinking Pom poms from down the back...no neither did I but I do now!

Well rather than try to make anyone feel a failure, I'm going to share our new games with you. They are simple (but not in the Pinterest 'it takes five hours to prep then four minutes to do' way).

Ready...first game:


Start doing the washing up, put extra squirt of washing up liquid into the running water. Scoop those bubbles into a bowl and get your kids to paint the cupboards, the odd door or even the floor. Then when the bubbles have finished give them a tea towel to wipe it all up.

See so simple yet so effective.

Game two: let the kids take all the cushions off the sofa and jump around on them, roll off them and generally create havoc. I used to stop this behaviour but letting them do it and they way they giggle is worth the chaos.

Game three: Give them both a bowl of water and a whisk...then watch them pretend to be chefs or just pouring the water over their own trousers and laughing manically so you end up in just your nappy (mentioning no names!!)


They aren't the most stylish of games, taking pictures don't make you look like the best mother but it keeps them busy and I don't have to feel like a rubbish mum for not educating and providing things for them to do.
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18 Oct 2015

The Boy & Me

I used to document what bubba and I got up to but realised that I haven't done this for cub.

Now Bubba is in full time school I have more time alone with my boy. Every afternoon and then two whole days together.

Until a few months ago I had never been to a playgroup as Bubba and I always had a full quota of things to do. For research I took cub and after a while to warm up, he loved it and it's really nice to watch him playing and exploring. So we've been going every week, we also go to one structured class where he doesn't necessarily join in the song time (looks at me as if I'm insane as I sing) he loves running around, the musical instruments and bubbles...oh my boy loves bubbles. 


Apart from that we sometimes just go to the supermarket and have a spot of lunch on the days I work. I'm still at the feeling guilty, like something or someone is missing stage. I miss having my girl around chattering away at me.

I'm getting to know him in such a different way and get to concentrate on his cheeky little personality and quirky mannerisms. At 18 months he is into everything and is starting to have proper tantrums, sometimes I can't even look at him mid hissy fit as that sends him into a bigger tantrum. But that's a whole different blog post for another day.

He loves climbing and being outdoors so on the days we aren't doing anything we probably spend 20 mins in the front garden (as soon as I lift him out of the car). Then at some point we end up in the back garden where he invariably gets muddy...it's like he attracts dirt and muck, so very different from his big sister.

The best bit is picking Bubba up from school, he gets so excited in the playground as we wait and there is lots of squealing from them both.


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14 Oct 2015

What we are reading...

My kids love books, which I'm very happy about as reading is one of my passions. It warms my heart when they go quiet and I come into the room to find them both immersed in books or magazines or anything that has words on it. I don't even mind when cub gets his favourite book and looks at it upside down. The fact that he wants to have the book means we are winning.


So I thought I'd share our favourite books right now, as I'm an Usborne Independent Organiser it means I have access to lots of lovely books. But I'm being honest in saying that although both these books are Usborne isn't a fix, the boy had his favourite before I started work and bubba is dino mad at the moment so hers is subject related.


So here we go: 


Peep Inside dinosaurs...


A lovely pop up book with gorgeous pictures and information about some popular dinosaurs (& some lesser known ones). Here's what bubba had to say:

Me: why is this your favourite book?
Bubba: cos I like all those pop ups...did you know mummy that dinosaurs ruled the world before people arrived

Me: what's your favourite dinosaur?
Bubba: Parasorolophis had a crest and it made sounds with it.

Me: is that your favourite?
Bubba: [just a withering look]

Me: why do you think it's a good book?
Bubba: it's a good book because I like dinosaurs 

Me: did it teach you anything?
Bubba: I know all the dinosaurs but I didn't know the underwater one. I only know a few but now I know loads mummy.

So there you have it, a really comprehensive guide to 'Peep Inside dinosaur'


Cubs best book is:
 
Baby's very first touchy-feely 
Lift the flap - Play book


It's got such bright and cheery pictures and I thought he'd go to town on ripping off the flaps but he is surprisingly gentle. When I do a playgroup with my books and have my copy of this book, he runs off with it to read and I have to negotiate to get it back in a pristine condition.

He looks at it every night and still acts shocked at the big reveal under each flap. Love it.


So what's your best books?

For more information on Usborne, please visit: www.babblebooks.co.uk



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12 Oct 2015

Words that wound

I though the worst bit of my four year olds tantrums was being in a busy shop and everyone watching but it isn't.

Tonight after school I asked her to change out of her school uniform so she could eat the cake and kinder egg I'd got her. This caused an almighty hissy fit which culminated in me taking her upstairs to cool down.

It wasn't her actions that I found distressing but her words. Bearing in mind we have just done an all night we with cub and his teeth - waking every hour. So I'm extra sensitive today but still wasn't expecting her to shout at me:

"I hate you"

"Go find a new family"

"I don't love you anymore"

"Leave me alone forever!"

I stood outside her door and quietly sobbed to myself. She doesn't realise what she's saying but I understand and remember. She's tired, having also woken twice in the night and after this fit she promptly fell asleep on the sofa.

I can only begin to imagine what's in store for us during her teenage years. 
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7 Oct 2015

I sit on the stairs...

I'm sat in the dark outside my babies rooms (it's a small hallway and I can touch both their doors if I wanted). I wait for my eldest to go to sleep, she more often than not requests for me to sit here. It used to bother me but now I don't mind as it gives my brain some space and quiet time whilst the smells of dinner waft up the stairs.

I can often hear a rustle or sigh from one or both of them and I thank my lucky stars that they are beautiful and mostly happy little souls. My next thought is 'please don't wake up, thank the Lord they are asleep'

I then often lean my head back against the cold, hard wall and wonder how on earth I got here! A mother of two energetic and willful children, a woman who is a shadow of her former self. Someone reduced to tears most days by the little ankle biters and who bitterly snipes at her husband when he's 15 minutes late home. 

He doesn't understand how "oh I lost track of time" rankles me, I'm now a woman who cannot be late, cannot loose track of anything. My life is so carefully timed and mapped out, I need to get where I need to be and I need not to be late. Two little lives hinge on me keeping it all together and keeping the momentum going. I bounce from having the.best.day.ever!!! To having a waking nightmare within seconds and I feel ashamed and emotional that I'm not enjoying every second with them. You get force fed by those who've trodden the path before you that 'these are the best days, you'll miss it when they grow up' but the here and now can be incredibly difficult and surely these people are telling you in hindsight and it's something they missed along the way too.

I truly love being their mother and can take the sacrifices I've made to make sure they are cared for. But I sometimes miss me, I miss going out with my husband, I miss being casual and lighthearted, I miss doing exactly what I want and when I want! Maybe that woman will return but I suspect I've changed and will never be the fun loving woman again.

For now, I'll resist falling asleep, lift my head up and plod on, there's dinner to be served and life to be living. I'll dig out my Yesmum cards and remember 'I'm doing the best I can'

*yesmum cards are the best for motivation. This isn't sponsored, please check them out as I think they are brilliant.
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5 Oct 2015

A mother knows...

It's important to find your favourite bear when you are ready to sleep (even if it means turning the house apart to find it).

When you cry about making sure I hold the balloon tightly enough so it doesn't fly away, I know it's not really about the balloon at all.

How you keep looking at me to reassure yourself when you get nervous.

That a certain smile and putting your hand over your mouth means you are lying to me.

When you run away but keeping looking over your shoulder laughing to me means you just want to be caught.

That sitting on me or as close as you can is a sign that you need me to take notice and make a fuss of you.

When you wipe your mucky nose on my sleeve that its done with love and you feel at your most comfortable with me.

When something crashes down (& you've been told not to touch it) you look to me for reassurance and the look in your eyes says 'oops sorry!'

There is nothing better than a mummy cuddle sometimes, no one else will do.

The first word from your lips in the middle of the night is always and will always be "mummy".

No-one knows exactly how you like your bread not touching your sauce but mum.

You don't have to explain what hurt when you fell over, you know you'll be scooped up and made a fuss of regardless.

There is nothing like the bond between a mother and her child, it cannot be explained, quantified or judged. I will always love you more than you know and forever I will be your biggest champion.

She would forgive her child regardless...

Being selfless is the least I can do from my babies, you want anything and I will at the very least, try to make it happen.

Her children are her biggest accomplishment ever and every day she counts her blessings because you made a half life become whole.




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29 Sep 2015

Our outdoor adventures - S'mores and more...

As a family we like to spend the weekends doing a little bit of what we all fancy. So on a Saturday morning we go to swimming lessons for Bubba and often then go do our supermarket shop. Hubby is always saying we need to get outside as soon as we get home because both kids really thrive on being in the garden.

So this week we decided to go out for a late bike ride to enjoy the last of the sunshine.


On Sunday we went to our nieces birthday party at softplay and the kids had the best time. We then went and did some chores before coming home and deciding to have some S'mores in the garden. Bubba wants to go camping and  toast marshmallows so we gave it a go (minus the camping bit until she's a bit older).We had been sent a brilliant kit from Certainly Wood but instead of making a proper campfire we used the BBQ. It was the best option with cub running around and his inability to notice danger.

It was easy to light the wood and get ourselves going, the instructions were simple to follow and suggested making a wigwam shape to light it. Bubba was so excited to see the real flames leaping up out of the bbq base and wanted to get straight on to toasting marshmallows. Hubby managed to incinerate the first one - it was literally black and sort of crumbled if touched...not edible at all!


We were sent some gourmet crackers, marshmallows and chocolate to test out and they were all beautifully wrapped and sent out to us.


Having never made S'mores before I had to find out how to make them and apparently you need to break your cracker in half and put a piece of chocolate on. Toast the marshmallow and then put on your stack, squash down whilst still warm and enjoy.

Luckily we had wood, starter lighters and flamers left over so will be doing this more often.

Bubba loved the adventure of having a real fire in the garden and doing something we don't normally do. Cub just enjoyed the goey delight which went everywhere. We enjoyed something a little different and hope the evenings stay mild and dry for awhile longer so hubby and I can go out after the kids are in bed, enjoy a little wine and toast some more marshmallows.




Our fabulous kit was from Certainly Wood - www.certainlywood.co.uk and there are lots of ideas over on their blog too for getting everyone outdoors.


ps. I did have some lovely shots on my big camera too but it decided to give up the game halfway through our adventure and my battery has stopped working...until I can extract the photo's unfortunately my phone snaps will have to do.
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24 Sep 2015

Tell Me One Thing

"How was your day my love?"
"What did you eat?"
"Who did you play with?"

....."I can't remember mummy"

We have the same every day, sometimes she slips up and actually tells me something about her school day but it's very rare.

Daddy and nanny seem to be let into her brain and the wonderful world of her day. They get snippets of who she played with and what happened. I don't even bombard her with questions as soon as she leaves, we get home and over the course of the afternoon I try and make conversation. Hubby thinks she does it on purpose to have a bit of control as she knows it winds me up!

So I've started to ask "tell me one thing about your day" or "one thing you learnt today?"

It gets a better response, although finding out that Nancy has to keep running to the toilet did fill me with dread that we've got that bug on the way to us!
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